Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Trump Speaks to Reporters on South Lawn; Damning Text Messages Detail Trump Administration Pressures on Ukraine; Trump: Asking Ukraine to Investigate Bidens Not Political, It's Going After Corruption; Trump Will Send Letter to Pelosi Demanding Full House Vote on Impeachment Before White House Turns over Documents Warren Outpaces Biden in Third-Quarter Fundraising. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 4, 2019 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:30:00]

TRUMP: Well, I think they follow the leader. One thing with the Democrats -- I give them credit for it -- a lot of them don't want it. You know that. You interview them. A lot of them are in the -- they call them Trump districts, where I won, and then they won after when I wasn't running. But I'm going to win them big.

If you look at what's happened with my polls, they're through the roof. You know why? Because of this phony witch hunt.

If you look at what happened with the fund-raiser, we've -- we've set a record, the Republicans, because people are sick and tired of it. I got a call the other night from pastors, the big -- the biggest pastors, evangelical Christians. They said we have never seen our religion or any religion so electrified. They are -- they say they've never seen anything like it.

Churches are joining, hundreds of thousands of people, and you know that's, to a large extent, because of you and your partner, the Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Do you think it will pass the House, sir? Do you think it will pass the House and die in the Senate?

TRUMP: Well I think this -- I think this: We have great -- we have a great relationship in the Senate. I have a 95 percent approval rating in the Republican Party. I believe the Senate -- and I haven't spoken to that many senators, but I believe the senators look at this as a hoax, it's a witch hunt; it's a disgrace.

It should have never happened. Just like Russia collusion delusion should have never happened. That was a witch hunt. And just like that, should have never happened.

So I think in the Senate, I think they feel that the Republican Party has been treated very, very badly. Now in the House, they have the majority. They all vote with AOC and -- and plus-3. Nancy Pelosi's petrified of them. I mean, she's afraid she's going to lose her position.

Nancy Pelosi will lose her speakership right after the election when the Republicans take over the House.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sir, can we talk about the text messages that included holding off...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The one text message that I saw was just about the last text message, because I don't know -- I don't even know most of these ambassadors. I didn't even know their names.

But the text message -- the text message that I saw from Ambassador Sondland, who's highly respected, was there's no quid pro quo. He said that. He said by the way -- it almost sounded like in general -- he said, by the way, there's no quid pro quo, and there isn't.

Now for Biden, there would be. But listen to this, there is no pro quo, and that was the text message that I saw, and that nullified everything.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don't involve your political opponents? Are there other cases where...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You know, I -- we would have to look, but I'll tell you, what I asked for, and what I always will ask for, is anything having to do with corruption with respect to our country. If a foreign country can help us with respect to corruption and corruption probes, and that -- I don't care if it's Biden or anybody else, but if they can help us -- if Biden is corrupt, if his son is corrupt -- when his son takes out billions of dollars -- billions -- and he has no experience -- he just got fired from the Navy -- when they do that, that's no good.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: So -- so the only -- just to finish your question, anything having to do with corruption, I actually feel I have an obligation to do that.

QUESTION: Including with Mr. Putin, sir? Including with Mr. Putin?

QUESTION: Is someone advising you that it is OK to solicit the help of other governments to investigate a potential political opponent?

TRUMP: No, I don't say anything's OK. I'll tell you what's OK. (CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Here's what's OK: If we feel there's corruption, like I feel there was in the 2016 campaign -- there was tremendous corruption against me -- if we feel there's corruption, we have a right to go to a foreign country -- and just so you know -- just so you know ...

QUESTION: Including Mr. Putin, sir?

TRUMP: ... I was investigated ...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... Mr. Putin, as well?

TRUMP: I was investigated, OK? Me -- me, in my campaign. I ran, I won, I was -- you won't say that, will you? I was investigated -- I was investigated, and they think it could have been by U.K. They think it could have been by Australia. They think it could have been by Italy.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: So when you get down to it, I was investigated by the Obama administration -- by the Obama administration, I was investigated. So when these people talk -- but as far as I'm concerned, what I want to look at and what we want to investigate anything having to do with corruption.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: I view China as somebody we're trying to make a deal with. We have a very good chance of making a deal with. We've had good moments with China; we've had bad moments with China. Right now, we're in a very important stage in terms of possibly making a deal.

TRUMP: If we make it, it'll be the biggest trade deal ever made. If we make it.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: But I view China as somebody that we deal with on the world stage. I would like to get along with China, if we can. And if we can, that's great. If we can't, that's OK too.

But what we're doing is, we're negotiating a very tough deal. If the deal's not going to be a hundred percent for us, then we're not going to make it.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And -- and I will -- and I will say this. I will say this. I will say this. China very much wants to make this deal. China's getting killed. The tariffs are killing China. What's happened is, they have now 3 million loss of jobs, their chains are broken up. They're -- if you look at their supply chain, it's a disaster. Companies are going to other countries, including us.

China, right now, is a total disaster.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... trade deal with China, (inaudible) with an investigation into Joe Biden, and will you ask...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, no, no.

Let me tell you, I'm only interested in corruption. I don't care about politics. I don't care about Biden's politics.

I never thought Biden was going to win, to be honest. I picked somebody else a long time ago, and we'll see what happens. But I never thought Biden was going to win.

But I don't care. I mean, frankly, if he won, I'd be very happy. I think he'd be an easy opponent.

But I never thought Biden was going to win. I don't care about politics. But I do care about corruption, and this whole thing is about corruption. This whole thing -- this whole thing is about corruption.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... Democratic primary?

TRUMP: This is about -- this is about corruption, and this is not about politics. This is about corruption.

And if you look and you read our Constitution and many other things, we -- I have an obligation to look at corruption. I have an actual obligation and a duty.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... comply (ph) with the House subpoena?

TRUMP: What?

QUESTION: Are you going to cooperate with the House's investigation?

TRUMP: I don't know. That's up to the lawyers.

I know the lawyers think they've never seen anything so unfair. They've never seen anything so unjust.

I've been president now for almost three years, and I've been going through this for almost three years. It's almost become like a part of my day.

But in the meantime, we have the best economy we've ever had, we have the best job numbers we've had in 51 years, the best unemployment numbers that we've had in a half a century, the best numbers that we've never had. African-American, Hispanic America, Asian-American, women, everything. We have the best numbers that we've had in many, many, many decades.

And you know what? People understand that. People are working, they're making money, the -- if you look at one very important number that was just announced, wages up 3 percent. That's unheard of. That's unheard of. So it's a great thing.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I didn't hear you. Go, go.

QUESTION: (inaudible) the idea that (inaudible) Biden (ph)? Who advised you to look into (inaudible)?

TRUMP: We're investigating corruption.

QUESTION: Where did you...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: We're not investigating campaigns.

I don't care about his campaign. As I said, I didn't think -- I didn't think, and I don't think Biden's going to win, all right? I don't think.

And maybe, to answer your question, when you say, "Who is going to win?", I'd rather not make a prediction. But I do have a feeling about somebody.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: But I didn't think -- because I've watched Biden over the years, and Biden is not the brightest person. I never thought he was going to win. I never felt he was going to win. If you look at his other two campaigns, he was a 1 percenter. He got very few votes. He got taken off of the garbage heap by Obama. Obama took him off the garbage heap.

So it's one of those things.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: But I never thought that Biden -- I didn't think Biden was going to win. I guess that everybody has a shot, but I don't think he would be, frankly, my toughest opponent.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And just to finish off -- just to finish off, I don't think that he will win. I didn't think he was going to win, and I don't think he's going to win.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... Elizabeth Warren (inaudible), Bernie's sick (ph). What do you think about facing Elizabeth Warren?

TRUMP: That's fine. I mean, it's fine. She's a socialist, and maybe worse than that. But we'll see.

I -- I heard -- I haven't seen his poll numbers. I haven't seen Biden's poll numbers.

Look, Joe Biden was never going to make it, all right? He was never going to make it. He tried it twice. He's at one percent. There's a reason. When I announced, I went to number one day one, and I stayed there the entire primary season. I never -- I never was off center stage.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I was never given credit for that, but that's OK, except by Steve.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The only one that gave me credit was Steve.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: Who?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: No, they were trying to set up a meeting, but he wanted sanctions lifted and I said, you must be kidding. We had no interest.

Rouhani wanted a meeting at the U.N. We did talk. I didn't speak to him personally, but our sides talked. He wanted sanctions lifted, or partially lifted, and I said no.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Democrats say that (inaudible) that socialism in Venezuela (inaudible).

TRUMP: We're watching Venezuela very, very closely. The people are suffering, and we are watching it very closely. We're also giving big aid to Venezuela.

Now, one thing: I'm now going to Walter Reed Hospital. We're going to be giving out five Purple Hearts to unbelievably brave, young people, and I'm going to meet you. Some of you are going over. I don't know. I think some of you are going over, so we can talk further over there. Although when we're there I would like you to respect the process. We're giving out Purple Hearts to very brave people, Wounded Warriors, people that have been -- I mean, they're just incredible people. And I'm going to be back here in probably two hours.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, do you have an impeachment strategy?

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So the president, greatest hits of President Trump just now. And president, the president said a lot as he does.

First, the one fact-check that matters at this moment. Despite what the president said repeatedly over and over again about his political rival, Joe Biden, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing from either Joe Biden or Hunter Biden with regard to anything that the president is focusing on here.

While the president is now suggesting and presenting himself as a fierce champion of corruption, I think maybe the most important thing that was asked and said in a very lengthy back and forth is the following. When a reporter asks, have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigation that don't involve your political opponents, the president says, "We would have to look," and then cites no other examples except for Joe Biden.

Let's get back to this right now.

Susan Glasser, can I bring you back in, please?

Susan, this is always one of the moments that it's -- I don't feel like we can -- I always mess up the metaphor and the analogy, miss the forest for the trees. What did we just watch play out? What's important to remember about all of this?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, first of all, Kate, you are right about the metaphors. It's exhausting to subject yourself to watch the president in full like that. And it's still, to me, you know, even three years into it, it's remarkable.

You have a president who is a unique combination of grievance and attack and aggression spewing forth a lot of misinformation along with -- very clearly he had something he wanted to say this morning, which is that somehow this is not political and I'm only caring about corruption. There's no record to support that, of course, in --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And just to interject, Susan, I think you are highlighting something important. Whereas, we saw the beginnings of a new impeachment defense strategy, which is, I did it, I'll do it again. I think today we see the next chapter, which is, it's not about politics, it's about corruption.

GLASSER: Yes. He repeated that, by my count, at least four or five times. Number one, number two. He did say at the beginning there was no quid pro quo. I think that is something that's been challenged overnight by the release of the text messages as well as voluminous evidence.

He continues to assert over and over again that his phone call with the Ukrainian president July 25th was a perfect phone call. Of course, that is a key piece of the evidence assembled against hum in the House impeachment inquiry.

And he confirmed the reporting essentially that they are choosing a confrontational strategy with the House of Representatives.

He is relying almost exclusively here on his political reading of the Senate, the Republican Senate, as being a bulwark behind him. So far, we have not heard rousing defenses from the Senate but silence. We haven't heard criticism --

BOLDUAN: Right.

GLASSER: -- of the president either. So that's the political dynamic, I think, that we're all watching right now.

[11:45:07]

BOLDUAN: Let's hit on that.

Melanie, thank you so much for sticking by.

This -- welcome to the 11:00 hour, the wild roller coaster we ride. The text messages. What the president said about the letter he is sending back to Nancy Pelosi saying, essentially, I dare you to go to the floor, unless and until you're not getting anything from us. Making very clear the standoff is going to be happening that everyone assumed would be coming.

But the question is, with what we see in the text messages coming out, it puts the focus once again, written word, of officials repeatedly raising concerns that they were being asked to hold up military aid and more until Ukraine agreed to investigate Joe Biden. With that, that put the focus squarely back on Capitol Hill. And it seems a harder position for Republicans to be in to defend.

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": You're absolutely right. This essentially blows up their strategy. They put all the eggs in the no quid pro quo basket. And they have said, look, maybe the call was inappropriate and maybe the president shouldn't have brought up Biden in the call with Ukraine but it didn't rise to impeachable evidence because no evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement.

But I think the text messages completely challenge that. In fact, clearly spelling out that the Trump administration was only giving a meeting to the president of Ukraine, who wanted the meeting, if they investigated Biden and the 2016 election.

And not only that but they wanted a public statement. The "New York Times" reported that two of the diplomats actually had a hand in crafting a statement that never went out. But the Trump administration put so much effort on getting a strong public statement out there.

Rudy Giuliani also reportedly wanted them to specifically mention the gas company that Biden's son was on.

That just goes to show where the interests were. Why did they care so much about the statement? Why couldn't Ukraine just operatively carry on the investigation if all you cared about was corruption?

Back to Susan's point, you are hearing Trump hammer in on the idea of, I didn't view Biden as a arrival, I didn't think he had a shot. And trying to distance himself from anything about politics and trying to make it all about corruption.

BOLDUAN: You're ending -- perfectly transitioning.

I want to back get to Jeremy Diamond at the White House.

And the exact point Melanie is raising there, Jeremy, Donald Trump saying that he -- this isn't about politics. This about corruption. This isn't about Joe Biden. And making clear he stays he does not -- he is not concerned about Joe bidden. Your reporting is otherwise.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, it's the exact opposite Kate. We have known for months the president has been consumed with Joe Biden's campaign for president. And he and many of his advisers have seen Joe Biden as the biggest threat to re-election prospect.

The president long viewed Joe Biden's appeal in the Midwest among white working-class voters. He viewed that as a big threat. When the president says he never saw Biden as a threat, never winning the Democratic primary and still doesn't, none of that is true, Kate, as borne out repeatedly by our reporting.

The president yesterday already let the genie out of the bottle when he talks about also asking China to investigate Joe Biden.

As much as the president is banging the corruption drum, in fact, he is only talking about this case involving Joe bidden, for which there's scant to no evidence to back up any of his claims -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Great stuff.

Jeremy, thank you so much.

Again, very much needed perspective when we have what played out again from the president on the South Lawn.

Let me bring in Bradley Moss. He's an attorney specializing in national security law. He also represents whistleblowers.

Your law partner is representing the whistleblower in -- behind this complaint. You are walled off from that, Brad. I always just want to say.

I am very curious, with everything that we learn, every development that comes out, but especially the first witness that's being interviewed, Kurt Volker, and the text messages that come out.

You handle a lot of whistleblower complaints. You handle a lot of whistleblower cases. How does this one stack up? Of course, it's unprecedented. We've talked about this. But the evidence come out, being presented now.

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: This is complete validation of pretty much the entirety of what the whistleblower set forward.

I want to raise the idea that a lot of people have complained that the whistleblower process is flawed, deficient, doesn't work well and has issues. But this shows the process can work if you use it properly, if you get practical guidance, and if you let the political powers that be do their jobs.

The whistleblower brought the complaint. It went through the process. The details have come out. The political players are doing what they're supposed to do as set forth in the Constitution between these two branches. Nobody had to leak out the whistleblower complaint like an Edward Snowden or a Chelsea Manning. But the details have come our lawfully. And now we're getting a full public discussion on this.

[11:50:07]

What ultimately results is neither here nor there as far as the whistleblower is concerned. What matters is that we have accountability here. And the two branches of government are doing what they're supposed to do when this concern is raised.

BOLDUAN: Brad, one thing that came out about the whistleblower, one that's getting a lot of attention, is CNN is reporting that the whistleblower went to the House Intelligence Committee for guidance first before filing the formal complaint.

Is that normal to go to a committee first? And I raise this because I wonder if this presents any sort of a problem in your mind, because President Trump is making it a major line of attack.

MOSS: Yes. So this is all too common for individuals in the Intelligence Community who don't yet have qualified legal counsel on retainer, which most people don't always have that kind of money to have a lawyer around. They went within the agency, they thought they were being stonewalled, and it appears from the reporting, they were.

So they reached out to the Intelligence Committee staffer for guidance. Didn't provide a complaint, didn't provide the substance, sought guidance. The Intelligence Committee staffer did exactly what was right. Said you have to submit a complaint through the process and you should probably get a lawyer.

They didn't recommend a particular lawyer, the whistleblower found a lawyer on his or her own, and the whistleblower drafted the complaint on his or her own, by himself or herself. They didn't have the lawyers writing it for them.

This is all deflection and distraction by the president and his media allies, trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

BOLDUAN: Let's keep some perspective.

Let's bring in the big picture, Caroline, here with me.

What we're seeing with the president this morning and everything in the last 24 hours with text messages coming out, what is alleged in the complaint is confirmed by either the president or the details that are coming out, just as he continues to attack the complaint of the whistleblower as inaccurate. At the same time. So that's with Ukraine.

Then you have CNN's new reporting that even before the president said yesterday that he now wants China to also investigate Joe Biden, CNN's reporting is even before that. In June, there was a phone call between the president and President Xi and the president did the same thing. And that same conversation was also moved to that secure server.

Just for perspective, because I heard Carl Bernstein say it today. When you see all of this coming out, what is coming together, he raised the prospect that he thinks what we're seeing play out is it looks like a conspiracy led by the president of the United States, which is a very serious charge, of course. Do you agree?

CAROLINE POLISI, WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It is a serious accusation. And when you read the text messages, certainly, they do have a bit of a conspiratorial flare, especially that one where somebody says, wait a second, it looks like we're withholding aid to a fledgling democracy here contingent upon a domestic investigation into the president's political rival. The person writes back, "Call me."

That's what I tell my clients, don't put things in text messages.

Also, in my line of business, as you noted, typically, when misbehavior comes to the forefront, it's not the first time it has happened. Now that we're hearing about this with China, there was a process in place. This looks like an M.O. People around him were helping keep this behavior undercover with the password-protected device. It's all --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Again, these are legal questions, and there are legal questions. It is a political process, though, that continues to play out. All of the focus not only on the president, now back to Capitol Hill. The inspector general of the Intelligence Community is testifying right now behind closed doors.

Much more to come on this.

Coming up, though, we've got other big developments coming up in the 2020 Democratic race. Senator Elizabeth Warren throwing out a very big fundraising number. Where she stacks up in these third-quarter totals. What it means for her standing in the race and her standing with Joe Biden. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:57:35]

BOLDUAN: Breaking news just in. More third-quarter fundraising totals for the presidential candidates are rolling in. We just received the number from Senator Elizabeth Warren's campaign and it is a big one.

CNN political correspondent, M.J. Lee, has more details on this.

M.J., so third quarter, this covers July through September.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Lay it out where Warren stands now.

LEE: This is a number we've been waiting for all week. Her campaign just announcing she raised $24.6 million in the third quarter.

A couple key numbers that the campaign is sharing with us, 940,000 donations from around 500,000 people. And 300,000 of those donors, the campaign says, are first-time donors in the third quarter, average donation of $26.

If we could bring up that graphic comparing her number to some others in the field. Obviously, she just fell shy of Bernie Sanders' number of $25.3 million. She outraised Joe Biden by more than $9 million. And outraised others in the field as well, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, others you see there in the graphic.

And just one key very important number the campaign is sharing with us as well, heading into the final stretch of 2019, the campaign has $25.7 million of cash on hand. Obviously, this treasure chest is so important in terms of the kinds of investments that the campaign can make.

And, Kate, you know, we talked so much about the summer fundraising slump.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

LEE: This is what we refer to, as it's just being difficult for candidates to raise money because donors are vacationing. They're just harder to reach.

What's notable is that we saw folks like Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden suffer from that a little bit. They raised less in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, but --

BOLDUAN: She's doing very well, right? LEE: Exactly. For Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who are not doing

high dollar fundraisers, they're actually gaining momentum in their fundraising, which is interesting because this Democratic race has been so much about the small-dollar grassroots fundraising, versus the candidates doing high dollar fundraisers.

BOLDUAN: And it, especially for Elizabeth Warren, dovetails with the momentum we're seeing be reflected in early polls and the national polls and her standing in the field.

LEE: That's right. In the first quarter, she only raised about $6 million. Last quarter, she raised $19 million. And now, almost $25 million. Clearly, that momentum we are seeing on a whole different level, whole number of levels.

[12:00:03]

BOLDUAN: And not over yet.

Good to see you. Thank you so much, M.J.

LEE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.

Guys, thank you so much for joining me today. Another wild ride. We are on it together.

[12:00:00]